Hillary Rodham Clinton has served as first lady, a senator from New York and secretary of state. She is no newcomer to the corridors of power. Her decision to exclusively use a private e-mail account while secretary suggests she made a deliberate decision to shield her messages from scrutiny. It was a mistake that reflects poor judgment about a public trust.
Under the rules as they existed during Clinton’s time as secretary, from 2009 to 2013, government officials were not strictly required to use official e-mail accounts. However, in 2011, then-White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “We are definitely instructed that we need to conduct all of our work on our government accounts . . .” He said it was “administration policy” to use government accounts. Did this not apply to Clinton at the State Department?
If government officials did use private e-mails for public business, they were required to consider the e-mails to be equivalent to government records and to preserve them. Clinton took her e-mail with her when she left office in 2013. Then, in December 2014, when asked by the State Department, she turned over 55,000 pages of e-mails from the private account. Her spokesman said in cases when she wrote to department officials at their formal addresses, those e-mails should still be in the department’s system.
Clinton essentially privatized her e-mail, reserving to herself to decide what should be in the record. Clinton’s spokesman said she followed the “letter and spirit of the rules.” The letter, perhaps, was followed, but certainly not the spirit. If people aspire to public service, they should behave as stewards of a public trust, and that includes the records — all of them.
Clinton’s use of private e-mail shows poor regard for that public trust.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE WASHINGTON POST